Looking for X
(Allen & Unwin)
Deborah Ellis was born in Canada in the 1960s, and started writing when she was 11-12 years old. As a child she moved around several times with her family. Most of her books are based on the problems of other people she met along the way. Ellis received the Canadian Governor General's Literacy Award for Looking for X, which she wrote in 1999.
Ellis is also a philanthropist and donates almost all of her money from the books to charities such as Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. She is considered one of the most popular young adult writers today.
Eleven-year-old Khyber lives at home with her mum, Tammy, who is an ex-stripper, and her twin autistic brothers, Daniel and David, who are five years old.
Khyber, who has ambitions of being an explorer, is a very intelligent young girl who skipped two years in school. She does not enjoy her time at school - she gets bullied and feels misunderstood by her peers. She gets the finger pointed at her for vandalism that is done to her school, when she is in fact innocent. Her brothers cause myriad amounts of embarrassment for her, but taking them for a walk in the nearby national park is an important part of her daily routine.
One of Khyber’s only friends, known only as "X", is a street woman and very mysterious. No one else in Khyber’s life has ever seen her, only heard of her. Khyber takes "X" sandwiches and just talks and talks to her. She divulges to "X" that her mother and school believe that "X" is just an imaginary friend. Ironically, soon afer this, "X" goes missing.
One day Khyber returns home from school to find her mum speaking to a woman who happens to be a social worker. Her mother is strongly considering sending her brothers to a children’s home quite some distance away. This upsets Khyber quite a lot.
The rockiness of close personal events sets Khyber on a determined adventure to prove to her mother, school and social worker that her friend "X" is real and that her brothers needed to stay with them.
Looking for X is an inspirational story based on events that a lot of young people struggle with, like feelings of rejection and isolation. This story offers readers insight into the life that some young people deal with. Khyber is a very intelligent and sometimes clownish character. Family is of great importance to her. Even when she is struggling to get along with them, Khyber is a force to be reckoned with.
Looking for X is a well-written book in the sense that a lot of young people can relate to bits and pieces of the storyline. The whole story was easy to relate to. It was very easy to read and very enjoyable as well. I felt that I could relate to Khyber and her story even though I haven’t been through the same things as she has. I personally have read the book three times because I didn’t want the story to end.
4 out of 5
For more book reviews, check out our Reviews archive.